Giant Faux White Herons

HeronDancers

It’s not every day I nip out to the local shrine for a little photo taking and run into gaggle of women dressed as eight foot tall birds. Japan can be weird, but it’s not usually this weird! They were performing a thousand-year-old dance called Shirasagi no Mai, which means (unsurprisingly), White Heron Dance. It was originally performed as an antidote to that internationally pesky medieval disease, the plague, but because it was apparently not the magic bullet people had hoped, it fell into disuse until 1968, when shrine officials resurrected it from images in an old scroll.

HeronDance2

If I had a pair of wings like this, my life would be complete.

HeronDance1

Not sure how this was supposed to drive out the plague, but hey, who’s to say it doesn’t work? There haven’t been any epidemics in Tokyo since it was brought back in 1968, so…

For much more gifted photos of this dance, check out Tokyobling’s Blog! If you’re in Tokyo in April and would like to see the dance of the white herons in Asakusadirections & maps are on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.

Read a novel set in Tokyo

The #1 hostboy at Club Nova makes a handsome living, whispering sweet nothings in the ears of women who pay him a fortune for the privilege. But the party’s over when Tokyo Detective Kenji Nakamura is assigned to investigate the death of one of Hoshi’s customers…read more